PROVO, Utah — Unproven conspiracy theories about COVID-19 have caused a group of people to try and breach a local hospital, officials say.
The group, fueled by the unsubstantiated theory that hospitals are misrepresenting capacity levels, has attempted to break into the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo.
The hospital recently reported during a Provo City Council meeting "that a few individuals without a medical need have attempted to gain physical access to the facility with the intent try to confirm fake conspiracy theories — such as hospitals are not busy and that reports of the COVID-19 surge are false."
It was unclear if anyone was arrested or cited for the disturbances.
"Hospital staff have also fielded some telephone calls regarding similar false conspiracy theories. Although these situations are few and isolated, stopping attempts to gain inappropriate access and responding to fake conspiracy theories diverts attention from providing lifesaving care provided at the hospitals," said Intermountain Healthcare, which operates Utah Valley Hospital, in a statement. "COVID-19 is real and the hospital is seeing large increases in patients with the virus. Staff are stretched and are working many extra hours to meet community needs. We ask the public to join with us, mask up, wash hands, social distance, and stay home when sick so we can care overcome the challenges of this pandemic in our communities."
On Thursday, Utah saw its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day — nearly 4,000 and nine new deaths.
Hospital capacity is at 87%, meaning many medical centers are running out of places and staff to take care of those who contract the deadly virus.
The surge in cases in Utah comes as the virus spreads uncontrollably around the country. Thursday marked a record with 150,000 new cases and was the 10th consecutive day in which 100,000 people were diagnosed with the virus.
This story was originally published by Ben Winslow on KSTU in Salt Lake City.